There are any number of reasons offered for this development, heard once again earlier this month when eight-year-old Humidor, who had shown little form for the past year, came out and bloused his rival in the group 2 Feehan Stakes at The Valley, earning for himself a start in the Cox Plate in the process.
Many of the more promising two and three-year-olds in this country are sold to race in Hong Kong, owners happy to take the huge money on offer.
Many are packed off to stud during their three-year-old career, never getting the chance to show their true worth.
And the proliferation of rich new races – such as the $7.5 million Golden Eagle for four-year-olds in Sydney – means that many owners and trainers would prefer to pick lucrative contests like that against their own age cohort than take on the battle hardened weight-for-age racers who have been around for years.
But Williams goes against this gran, arguing racing should celebrate the old boys who are still competitive at the highest level, even if they are taking the gloss off the younger brigade.
That is exactly what Gailo Chop and Harbour Views will try to do on Saturday when they take on the current buzz horse, Russian Camelot, in the group 1 Underwood Stakes.
”We might, without realising it, have had a great bunch of older horses who are still competitive. We might have been very spoilt with what we had and not really appreciated it,” he says.
”Black Heart Bart was winning group 1 races until his old age; Gailo nearly stole the Kingston Town in Perth last year and Gatting won at Flemington. These are good horses, and if they can still show the ability and interest then that is to their credit.”
The frontrunner Gailo Chop was third, beaten less than two lengths by his then nine-year-old compatriot Black Heart Bart in the Underwood last year, and Williams is quietly confident of another big showing this weekend.
”Both he and Harbour Views galloped at Casterton on Tuesday morning. I thought Gailo Chop’s work was probably the best he’s worked for us. It was really good.
”I know he’s a price but I won’t be surprised to see him run a very cheeky race. Potentially he is going to get a reasonably soft lead … whilst they won’t be walking they won’t be overdoing it up front to set it up for someone to run on.
”Harbour Views has come through his Valley run terrific. We had him very forward for the Feehan as we wanted to try and win that and qualify directly for the Cox Plate.
”He probably needs to find another length or two to be anywhere near competitive with Russian Camelot though.”
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing